Ilkay Gundogan insists Manchester City can only become one of the elite when they win the Champions League.
Pep Guardiola’s side go to Schalke on Wednesday for the first leg of their last 16 tie.
European glory has eluded them since Sheikh Mansour’s takeover in 2008 and they were knocked out in the quarter-finals by Liverpool last season.
“If you want to be in the international elite, when you want to be there both as a club and as a player, you need to clinch this trophy,” Gundogan said.
“You can’t go past it, at least in my opinion. I think that, if we were to win it someday, the club would enter a new era.
“(It would be lifted) to the same level as Real, Barca, Bayern or Juventus, clubs that are maybe a step above us. Maybe not in the way they play football, but as a club at least.
“Our job is to try and give it our all to make it a reality someday. We’ll try and will hopefully manage that somehow.
Stepping into a big week in Europe and Wembley! ⚽️— Manchester City (@ManCity) February 18, 2019
“We’ve experienced a lot in the Champions League in recent years – not all of it positive, of course.
“We should’ve won it at least once. So as you can imagine, there’s a very big drive within us to do something in the Champions League. The biggest low was probably being knocked out by Liverpool last season.
“For that reason, the motivation to go far in this competition is huge and I think we have the quality required.”
City topped Group F and last played Schalke in the UEFA Cup in 2008, winning 2-0 in Germany.
They are tipped to progress past the German side with Gundogan insisting they must embrace the favourites tag.
“We are clear favourites in this tie and rightly so,” he told the club’s official site.
“We accept that role and we’re aware of it. However, it has to be said that every team in the last 16 has earned the right to be there.
“Because of that, we’ll respect our opponents and prepare for it as if it’s a normal final because it’s the knockout phase and every mistake can be severely punished.”
The round of 16 continues this week! 🙌— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) February 18, 2019
The 28-year-old grew up in Gelsenkirchen and watched Schalke as a youngster and still feels a strong connection to the city.
He added: “Football meant everything to us, for my family, for my older brother, who is two years older than me and kind of paved my way with his way of playing football.
“I remember that the first two games I saw were Schalke games. The first one, when I was very young, I cannot remember the exact age, but I can remember that I went to Parkstadion and watched a game in the stadium for the first time.”
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